The wave of uprisings in the Middle East underlines the fact that al-Qaeda’s overall impact has been rather small. Young Arabs like everybody else want to live in free societies. Thus, al-Qaeda has not been able to convert the public at large. Nevertheless, the global online jihad movement will still be able to initiate self-radicalization among young people with extremist attitudes.
THE AL-QAEDA MEDIA NETWORK
The global jihadist Web continues to undergo changes, but one of the leading forces on the al-Qaeda media scene is the official media production group, as-Sahab, which makes al-Qaeda sovereign, not having to depend solely on news organizations, such as Al-Jazeera, in speaking their case or covering activities from the jihad fronts.
Originally, As-Sahab was part of a media department established back in 1988, when al-Qaeda formed (Seib, 2008, p. 75). It was from this platform Bin-Laden called for war against the U.S and spread the call for jihad. Since 2003, as-Sahab has turned into a jihadist media empire, which releases major professional productions on a regular basis.
As-Sahab is a media brand, with its own logo on everything from microphones to coffee mugs and video productions, last mentioned featuring expert senior al-Qaeda personalities, appearing in front of bookshelves with impressive titles, including both religious writings as well as scientific writings, some or all of which are written by the celebrity in question. Ayman Al-Zawahiri oversees the overall direction and operations of as-Sahab, and he frequently appears in its video productions.
Radicalization via Jihadist Online Forums
The established al-Qaeda media machine is a catalyst and inspiration to many jihobbyists on the Web, who participate in jihadist-themed online activities on blogs, discussion boards, and social networking platforms, which are strictly jihadist oriented or mainstream sites, such as Facebook and YouTube. The banning strategy of al-Qaeda Websites has advanced the transfer of the movement from static Web 1.0 use of the internet which rely on one-way communication, focusing on the passive acquisition of information – into Web 2.0 use modes, characterized by participation via bottom-up activities and many-to-many communication, in which users take part in the building up of vivid communities.
Radicalization via Jihadist Invasion of Facebook.com
The Facebook invasion took off in 2008 with the purpose of reaching out to a wide crowd of Muslims using Facebook. On the al-Falooja forum, a poster suggested that seven brigades should invade social networking platforms, like Facebook, in order to spread jihad- and martyr-promoting content (Shactman, 2010). Official Facebook administrators frequently seek to remove militant groups and users with extremist Muslim attitudes, but as a counteraction, these groups share information about how to avoid having user profiles deleted.
The jihadist Facebook strategy includes forming groups with radical positions in seeking to congregate users with the right attitude